Glacier – Part 7 (aka The Final Installment)

Day 11

“The next time you attempt to kill me, please choose something faster and less painful than a four-and-a-half hour hike through the desert at the sunniest and hottest times of the day.”

Someone missed the, "Black is not a good color to wear in the desert," memo
Someone missed the, "Black is not a good color to wear in the desert," memo

We headed to Arches National Park for the day.  Our brilliant plan was to get there early and do the longest hike first (when it was cooler) and then see some of the short distance arches in the heat of the day.  Somehow, early ended up being 9:45am, but it didn’t occur to either of us that we might want to alter our plans.  Nor did it occur to me (despite our hiking experiences from earlier in the trip) that hiking 7.5 miles in Arches National Park might take a little bit longer than walking 7.5 miles down paved city sidewalks.  The latter I could do, at a brisk pace, in about two hours.  The former?

Well, let’s just say that we had succeeded in finding a place that was neither wet, cold, or cloudy.  And a place where that 7.5 miles takes more like 4.5 hours, in the middle of the day, in a place that is hot and sunny, did not make a happy camper out of this one.

I am all ready for a new career as an archaeologist (photo taken at beginninig of death hike)
I am all ready for a new career as an archaeologist (photo taken at beginning of death hike)

Our [very late] lunch after surviving the gauntlet revived me somewhat, but I was still pretty wiped out.  I suspect that I may have been close to heat exhaustion.  Instead of taking the rest of the day off, as I perhaps should have, we successfully located a local [somewhat secret from tourists] swimming hole.  Getting to a place where we could actually swim required more hiking.  While changing into my swimsuit, I discovered a weird rash on my ankles, which did not make me excited.  We did more wading than actual swimming, but the water was refreshing.  Other than looking freakish for the next few days, the rash on my legs never bothered me — no itching or pain.  Despite my initial fear that it was something chemical, like poison ivy, my best guess is that it was heat rash, albeit in an unusual place.
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Day 12

Having learned from the previous day’s mistake, we hit the trail by 8:15am and had a much better time of it.  Still exhausted from yesterday, and not wanting to push too much this time, I voted for turning around before reaching the Morning Glory Bridge at the end of Negro Bill’s Canyon.  Again, I was wondering, how can it possibly be taking us 30 minutes to cover 1 mile?!?

The Double O arch
The Double O arch

We headed back into Moab for a so-so lunch at a local restaurant.  I was washing my hands in the restroom at the same time as another woman, and she was standing there, letting the water run, while she looked in the mirror and fussed with her hair.  Hello, water waster!  In case you haven’t noticed, you are in the DESERT, and while conserving water is always a good thing, it is an especially good thing here.  In the desert.  I just barely restrained myself from reaching in front of her and turning off the tap, and I rather wish that I had exercised less restraint.

After an unsuccessful attempt to find wine we liked on a visit to a local winery, we returned to the campsite for the evening, too tired to drive to Arches and watch the sunset, as originally planned.

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Day 13

Homeward bound, on I-70 headed toward Denver.  Kind of like our experience hiking, we underestimated the time it would take us to drive through the Rockies.  We’re on an interstate, we’ll be going, like, 80mph the whole time — or not.  With only a short stop for lunch, it took us seven hours to drive 350 miles, putting us in Denver just in time for rush hour.  Yay!

We pushed on through into Kansas, where we caught some free wireless internet and found a bed and breakfast for the night in WaKeeney, KS.  We enjoyed real beds and not having to unpack and set up the tent just to take it down the next morning.

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Day 14

Our hosts provided a lovely breakfast the next morning, the highlights of which were their garden grown cantaloupe, tomatoes, basil, and rosemary.

We hit the road, pausing for a short interlude so that we would arrive home after the evening rush hour.  The few hours between arriving at our apartment and delivering the Prius to its rightful owners was very stressful, as our neighbors have recently taken to playing bumper cars with our vehicles.  People, this is not a carnival ride!  (And that “little hit” you delivered to the corner of our front bumper a few weeks ago is going to cost $1000 to repair!)

Anyway, the Prius survived unscathed, and we enjoyed a weekend to unwind before heading back to w-o-r-k.  The end.

Glacier – Part 6

Day 9

*As a note, we are not in Glacier anymore, but since I’ve been using that title, I’m going to stick with it.*

I almost forgot a very important thing that happened in Bigfork.  In Bigfork, we swapped Guzzler the Jeep for Sipper the Prius.  Despite our initial concern, we fit ourselves and all of our belongings into the Prius, and it was only a bit tighter than we had been in the Jeep.  With over three times the fuel economy!

After a somewhat leasurely morning, packing the car, and stopping in the village of Bigfork for lunch and some delicious local cherries, we finally hit the road south.  We were just out of Bigfork, with me behind the wheel, when the following occurred:

“Shit!” [Braking and swerving.]  “I just about killed Bambi — in their brand new Prius!”

Fortunately, Bambi was booking it and my driving maneuvers were successful, so we avoided that little tragedy.

We drove out of Montana with spot showers along the way.  I forbid it to rain anymore once we crossed into Idaho.  Like a child testing just how far she can push her parents’ rules, the skies did produce a few more showers, but things were nice and dry by the time we reached our campsite at Downata Springs.  We got in very late, having passed up our originally planned stop in Idaho Falls due to the fact that the campground was located squarely in the middle of an industrial area and had plenty of interstate noise.

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Day 10

In the morning, we searched for the hot springs at our campsite, but found none.  Thwarted in that little quest, we packed up and drove to Salt Lake City for a foodstravaganza.

My husband’s memory can be interesting.  He has a terrible time with names, and often also has issues with remembering things on the calendar.  However, after visiting a Salt Lake chocolatier one or two times when he was in Salt Lake FIVE YEARS ago, he managed to get us within two blocks of the place from memory, where we pulled over and asked a resident if there was a chocolate shop nearby (Matthew didn’t remember the NAME of the shop).  Thanks to his food oriented memory, we found Hatch Family Chocolates, where we enjoyed a pre-lunch frozen hot chocolate and picked up some chocolate for the road.  We already know we will have to go back sometime to try their hot hot chocolate, which was apparently inspired by Matthew.  The owners remembered him, and making a special hot chocolate for him, from five years ago!

Next up was lunch at Sawadee Thai.  This was not the Thai restaurant my husband remembered enjoying in Salt Lake (again with the food memory), but it was very highly reviewed, and it lived up to those reviews.

Next, we hit up an Italian grocery where we didn’t buy anything because the balsamic vinegar that he remembered as being so good and wanted to stock up on did not impress this time around.  However, we made up for it with pastry purchases at the Italian bakery next door.

Finally, we stopped at a street corner farm stand and bought some locally grown peaches and tomatoes.  Mission(s) complete, we rolled out of SLC and on toward Moab.  We found a campsite in Moab that was, in many ways, the nicest place we had camped yet, except for the road noise that resulted from its location at the edge of town where there was a hill in the highway right where the speed limit increased.  I liked the campground enough that we stayed there all three nights in Moab, sleeping with earplugs in to cut down on the noise.

Moab campsite -- No, it is not normal to have grass like that in the desert
Moab campsite

No, it is not normal to have green grass in the desert.  This was only accomplished through dedicated watering on the owner’s part.  Due to the water input, growing grass in the desert really is not “green,” but the rabbits thought it was the best thing since sliced bread!